Target Field: One Man’s Review

I was lucky enough to attend the very first regular season game at Target Field, as well as two other games during the week. I sat in 3 very different parts of the stadium and spent a lot of time walking around. While there have been a ton of posts on the internet regarding Target Field, I still have the audacity to think that my thoughts are valuable.

Let’s start at the beginning… getting there. I’m generally coming from the western suburbs. I’m also a big fan of driving. I’ve not taken the bus from the Park and Ride at 394/Hopkins Crossroad, but have friends who have. The buses have been packed, but overall the experience has been ok for them. My issue is that the round trip per person for the park and ride is $5.25. Each game I’ve gone to has included 3 or more additional people. Do the math. If you live south of the stadium you could try the light rail, but much like Vikings games expect crowded cars and long lines (especially after the game). My advice is just like you may have read online. Come early, stay late, and park several blocks from the stadium. You’ll play $10-$15 and you’ll need to walk, but I personally would rather spend my time walking instead of sitting in my car idling while waiting to get out of one of the ABC ramps. I haven’t even considered the street parking in Northeast. Mostly because I don’t frequent that area, but I’ve heard there are some good bars and restaurants in that area. So again, if you don’t mind extra walking, that’s one more option to consider.

Next is pre-game. If you park on the downtown side of the stadium you have a myriad of options before games. One option I was really excited about was Hubert’s moving into the former NBA City space at Target Center. The issue is that the former NBA City was like a bunker built into the north side (read: no sun) of Target Center. It appears that Hubert’s simply moved into the space. On opening day they had no outdoor seating (at the weekend games they did have a few outdoor tables) and they also made no appreciable change to the interior of the bar (it still has the pop-a-shot game in the corner). While Hubert’s is the bar with the best access to Target Field, it has zero ambiance. A better suggestion would be to check out the alley at Smalley’s 87 Club (in the former Champps space on 1st Ave.) There’s also the new Kieran’s with a nice outdoor patio on the corner of 1st and 6th. A location just as good as Hubert’s, but with actual ambiance.

There is also the option of enjoying Target Plaza. The plaza is beautiful. It has bronze statues of former Twins players, it has a giant bronze glove you can pose for pictures in, it has artwork, it has a view into the stadium… but, my first impression was: “it’s kinda small”. The “plaza” at the Metrodome was a section of Chicago Ave (aka Kirby Puckett Pl.) that was blocked off and had concessions and music. It was expansive… maybe too expansive for some of the crowds that came to the dome because it seemed empty before most games. But Target Plaza is the primary gathering spot and entrance into Target Field; they could/should have made it a little wider. There still are concessions on the plaza, but they are at ballpark prices. My advice is to pre-game at a local bar, and head past the plaza and into the stadium when the gates open. Spend your time inside the ballpark, not on the plaza.

Speaking of getting inside… there are five gates at Target Field, and unlike the Metrodome you are welcome to enter any gate regardless of where your seat is. Each Gate has the number for a former Twins great. There is really no rhyme or reason to the numbering. Although, it is in ascending order if you start in center field and go counter-clockwise (3, 6, 14, 29, 34). At any rate, I would recommend avoiding Gate 3 and 6 (center and left field). The light rail line is located there and these gates are quite busy. One exception to that would be just around the corner from Gate 6 (on the west side of the field) there is a small gate that is technically part of Gate 6, but faces the garbage burner (yes, garbage burner, not especially attractive) and is underused. Gate 34 is the main gate off of Target Plaza. While it’s the busiest of the gates, if it’s your first trip to Target Field it may worth going in that way as the view of the field when you walk in is unparalleled. Gate 29 is just south of the Plaza, near the ticket windows. It’s also busy, but a little less than 34. My recommendation is to take the walk down 7th Street to Gate 14 behind home plate. And if that gate is busy (unlikely) keep going around the corner and out to Gate 6.

Ok, now you are inside Target Field. You’ve gotten in a little over an hour before the game, so take a slow walk around the main concourse. Nice, huh? Now it’s time to find your seat. I’ve walked nearly the entire stadium and while it sounds cliché, there truly isn’t a bad seat in the house. Upper deck views are spectacular and much closer to the field than the upper deck in the Metrodome. It’s a perfectly good idea to buy the cheapest ticket you can find and just wander during the game. Belly up at the railing in left, or center, or right. But even the cheapest seat will provide you a great view of the game.

On opening day I sat in the left field corner (Section 126, Row 2, Seat 3). Down there you are essentially sitting at field level and are in a perfect spot to be seen on TV with any ball down the left field line. Sitting in the first row in those sections would be even better as they have a row and a half worth of leg room, although I had no leg room concerns in any of my seats at Target Field. The seats were in the sun for a day game, which was fine on an early April day, but may not be so much fun in July. On other thing I’ll mention is that when late in the game they turned on the lights above the video screen in left field, the left side of that light bank seemed to shine directly down on us. So late in the game when looking up at the screen you had to squint to keep from being blinded by those lights. Something that would concern me during a night game for sure.

At my third game we were lucky enough to get tickets from a friend in the Royals organization who gave us seats behind home plate (Section 116, Row 22, Seat 1). For free seats you couldn’t ask for much better, however if you are buying your own tickets I might think twice about this section. First, since you are behind home plate you have the screen in front of you. A section or two to the left would still be great seats and would eliminate the screen. Next, there are TVs mounted all along the concourse to show the game and replays to those walking around. These TVs are mounted right above row 20 or so… which means in row 22 you are looking almost straight up to see these. If you are going to be back in row 20+, you might was well make it row 24 or higher to enjoy the benefit of those seats. Lastly, along with the TVs there are speakers mounted as well, which means in rows 18-24 you are the closest to those speakers, and they can be a little loud after 9 innings. Again, these are things you can live with when the tickets are free, but if you have a choice in this area of the ballpark keep them in mind.

My second game was quite possibly the best game I attended. Partially because it was the first night game, but mostly because it was in the Delta 360 Legends Club. I sat in Section M, Row 12, Seat 19. It was the last row and on the aisle. After experiencing two other games in good seats I’m pretty sure that first row of any section in the Legends Club would be the best seat in the house. Not only do you have great views, but private concessions, lounges, bars, and restrooms. In addition there are places to sit up against the glass that separates the regular seating and the concourse; plus more seating in the concourse where you can sit and enjoy a drink or the food.

Speaking of food and drink, now that you are at the ballpark and in your seat, you need a beer and a brat. But there are far more options available. I haven’t tried everything, believe it or not, but here are my thoughts on some of the options available.

Murray’s Steak Sandwich – as with most red meat items at a ballpark you aren’t going to find any beef that isn’t essentially well done. My steak was well overcooked, but still tasty and not too chewy. My big complaint with the sandwich was that the cheese wasn’t melted at all. If you overcook the steak one would think there would be sufficient heat to melt the cheese. One would be wrong. The saving grace of the sandwich is the fantastic ciabatta roll from Franklin Street Bakery. I’d be willing to just eat the bun. There is also a single small slice of garlic toast. Some have found it too salty, but I loved it; I was just disappointed to find only one small slice.

Vincent Burger – a fancy juicy lucy filled with braised short rib and gouda cheese. Again the burger was over done (not looking for medium rare here, but medium well instead of well done would be nice), but the filling more than made up for that. I’d be happy with a bowl of the short rib and gouda. Also, it’s worth noting that Target Field serves a more modest Juicy Lucy, which I haven’t had… yet.

Tony O’s Cuban Sandwich – was very good but had the same problem as the steak sandwich in that the cheese was not melted nearly enough. But the flavor is good.

Chicken Fingers – were excellent as were the fries served with them

Cheese Curds – if you are looking for deep fried goodness, skip the chicken fingers and go right for the curds, served in an adorable paper canoe courtesy of our friends at Leinenkugel Brewery.

Wild Rice Soup – a Minnesota delicacy, and done right with Lunds/Byerly’s providing their delicious version of this soup.

Kramarczuk’s – an excellent Eastern European deli just across the river on Hennepin Avenue, Kramarczuk’s is east to find (and not easy to say). Just look for the huge lines and plumes of smoke rising from the concourse. Aggressively priced at $6.50 for their bratwurst and polish sausage to compete with the Schweigert hot dogs (which I haven’t tried). The sausages are good, but not great. The main issue I had was that the onions and sauerkraut were overcooked and burnt/dry. Worth the money, but not the line. If you must have, check out their second location in the upper deck. During my walkabout I found much shorter lines upstairs.

Root Beer – the Killebrew Root Beer was just ok. I was disappointed that it was made with HFCS. However the Town Ball Tavern makes a giant root beer float (in a big liter glass) that looks fantastic. Might be worth the HFCS.

Gelato – the gelato was excellent and far better than the ice cream (note: I haven’t tried the ice cream but I’ve heard it is nothing to write home about). My recommendation is get the two scoop version. They use the same cup for two or three scoops and after putting in two there isn’t much room left for a third, and consequently you won’t get much of your third flavor.

Legend’s Club Buffet – Chelle decided to try the buffet when we had tickets in the Legend’s Club. It was $19.99, but has carved beef tenderloin, walleye, pasta salads, pizzas, soups, and many more choices. The caveat is that it is a one-pass-thru buffet. But since Chelle used to wait tables she had no problem piling enough food on a single plate to fill up four people. If you are at the ballpark, hungry, in the Legend’s club, and looking for something different… do the buffet.

Dessert Cart – also a feature of the Legend’s Club. We didn’t have any of the desserts because we were too full, but they all looked fantastic. Tarts, cakes, pies… a little bit of everything.

Drinks – the beer selection varies quite a bit at the ballpark. Budweiser is quite dominant but you can find some local brews (Summit being the main one you’ll find on tap) and there is a Beer of Twins Territory concession stand conveniently located next to Kramarczuk’s that’ll give you even more options. The Legend’s Club, Captain’s Deck, Town Ball Tavern, and Hrbek’s provide cocktails (and I believe wine), but what I was disappointed in was that I found no frosty beverage (margarita/daiquiri) stands anywhere in the stadium.

Ok, you’ve come to the game, ate and drank your fill, watched the Twins win, and now it’s time to go. If you are in a rush, my advice is to leave early. While there aren’t any horrible choke points in the stadium we are still talking about nearly 40,000 people trying to get out of 5 major exits. The good news is that traffic moves pretty quickly and it isn’t a case of being stuck in the Metrodome for 30 minutes after a game waiting patiently to get blown out of the Dome doors.

But why leave? The Town Ball Tavern and Hrbek’s stay open for one hour after each home game. So why not stick around and have a drink or some food and let the place empty out? The Metropolitan Club also stays open, but that’s only available to Season Ticket holders. I have friends who are season ticket holders, so I’ll find my way up there sometime soon and post a follow up.

So overall how does Target Field rate? National and Local reviews have been very positive. I’ve been to a number of baseball parks (see my dated review), and Target Field compares quite favorably with Minute Maid Park in Houston. Very similar layout and feel, minus the retractable roof of course. Both parks straddle the edge of downtown with nothing to see and do on one side, and the entertainment section of downtown on the other. Minute Maid has the hill and flagpole in center, Target has the limestone porch in right field (although I do think that right field at Target Field could have done a bit more in right field, even with the porch it feels a little bland out there). All in all I would give Target Field the edge for being an open air stadium, although you can get frosty drinks in the left field corner of Minute Maid Park. Target Field is also reminiscent of Coors Field. But in all honesty at this point I’d give the nod to Coors Field. Coors wins on having a better view (downtown views and Rocky Mountain views), better sausage options (20+ different cased meat options), better beer, and is not next to a garbage burning plant. But even so, it is a close call… maybe I need to visit Coors Field again to refresh my memory. Who’s up for a road trip?!?







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